Hexagram #22. Adornment (Grace)

Adornment is developmental. It is beneficial to go somewhere in a minimal way.


EXPLANATION: Adornment means beautification. As for the qualities of the hexagram, above is Mountain, ☶ still, and below is Fire ☲, luminous: clear about where to rest, resting in what is clarified, one naturally clarifies illumination and rests in the highest good; therefore it is called Adornment.

This hexagram represents hidden practice and secret cultivation; it follows on the previous hexagram Observing. Observing is the path of spiritual clarity and alert observation, gradually progressing along with time; alert and observant, one turns the awareness around to look within. Wise yet appearing ignorant, adept yet appearing inept, one stabilizes clarity, so that clarity develops, and understands stopping and stilling, so as to rest in the appropriate place. Clarity and stillness, adorn each other; thus clarity is not misused, and stillness does not degenerate into quietism. Clarity is the body of stillness, stillness is the function of clarity; thus clarity is not damaged and stillness is correct, so clarity and stillness are developmental.  

Although clarity and stillness adorn each other, one should value still clarity. Still clarity is not empty inaction that does not use illumination at all. But while one is illumined within, one does not show it outside. One rests in clarity and does not rest where it is unclear. Clarity is within stillness; one does not lightly use the clarity of illumination. This is the meaning of keeping oneself small.

Keeping oneself small, one is prudent and cautious, getting rid of intellectualism, inwardly preserving clarity of spirit; with open awareness that is unclouded, one cannot be moved by anything. There is much benefit in this, but minimization that is too extreme is stillness without illumination; it is not the form of union of clarity and stillness that this hexagram represents — how could it be developmental or beneficial?

Stillness means resting in the highest good, being tranquil and imperturbable. Clarity means clarifying the quality of illumination, being sensitive and effective. Uncontrived when quiet, creative when active, clear in stillness, tranquilly employing illumination, attaining it in the mind and proving it in affairs, only then is it called true stillness and true clarity. When the text here says "it is beneficial to go somewhere," this simply means that this is the way to test and prove this stillness and clarity. When ordinary people have no concerns their minds are clear, and they know where to rest, but when they have matters to attend to they get muddled and confused, and don't know where to rest.

If one can be still by virtue of clarity, thereby to nurture illumination, and can be clear by virtue of stillness, thereby to master illumination, clarity and stillness will not be restricted, and can be used according to the time, planting lotuses in fire, hauling a boat through mud and water, the ineffable being of one spirit pervading the universe, clear in stillness and resting in the place to rest.
-- Liu Yiming, Hexagram #22 Adornment, The Taoist I Ching

Return to the Individual Hexagrams page






















Hexagram #22 Adornment








The trigram Fire











Fudo Myo, the Immovable King of Light, who represents stillnes and illumination









Going from one yang to the pureness of six yangs; going somewhere in a minimal way.